Archive for April, 2013

Goji Berries – A Superfood Growing Adventure

Posted on April 19, 2013. Filed under: Food Made Simple, Health, Plants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Food - Goji Berries 1I’ve been munching on dried goji berries now for a few months.  I’ve also included dried goji berry powder into my superfood fruit smoothies.  I found lots of health benefits to eating goji berries in just a little research.  They include:

  • Antioxidant levels that could help prevent cancer, heart disease, boost the immune system, and lower cholesterol.
  • Vitamin A levels that could have anti-aging effects, protect vision, prevent heart disease and improve immune function.
  • Goji berry compounds may boost brain health and may protect against age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
  • Preliminary studies that show benefits in mental well-being, and calmness, athletic performance, happiness, quality of sleep, and feelings of good health.

So, I wondered if it was possible to grow these wonders myself.  Again, a little research revealed that people all over the U.S. are doing this very thing!  The bushes they grow on are easy to grow and propagate.  They even tolerate harsh winters!  All I had to do was soak a few dried berries for 24 hours in water, then slit open to get the seeds out and pop them into some soil.

Food - Goji Berries 4          Food - Goji Berries 2

Well the little buggers are coming up gangbusters!  The photo above is of seedlings that are only 2 weeks old.  When they get their second set of leaves I will transplant them to individual containers.  I did read, though, that although this seedling method will work, I might not have plants mature enough this year to give me very much fruit.  Hmmm.  I didn’t like the sound of that.  So I hunted around and found someone selling little 2-3 year old plants for about $10 per plant delivered.  That sounded like a fun alternate approach.

Food - Goji Berries 3The arrived today!  They are still getting unbent from their pack into a box, but they have many, many green buds on them!   Now if I could just be patient for the snow to stop and the temperature to rise.

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Feet as a Roman Theme

Posted on April 18, 2013. Filed under: Art, Italy, Photography, Rome, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Rome - mosaic foot st peters

I love feet.  As a bodyworker, I find them amazing structures that support us all day as well as great vehicles for bringing complete relaxation to a client’s whole being.  They were everywhere in Roman art!  Above is an enormous mosaic foot in the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.  The span across it has to be 4 feet!

Rome -  bill with constantines foot           144 mary with big foot massage

These are two fragments from gigantic sculptures of Constantine.  The marble foot with Bill on the left is the famous one that Janet Travell M.D. was photographed with in the 1950s.  She pointed out the Morton’s toe on it (2nd toe longer than great toe).  I was watched very closely with that bronze foot.  Although it looks like I’m massaging it, I am careful not to touch it because the guards would have my head!

Rome -  feet in tabularium of capitoline museum

These are some very cool ancient stone carvings of feet.  I don’t think anyone understands why they were made but it’s clear that feet have been fascinating for a long time!

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Befriending the Tour du Mont Blanc

Posted on April 17, 2013. Filed under: France, Italy, Switzerland, Tour du Mont Blanc, Travel | Tags: , , , , , |

Travel - TMB Friends 2

Bill and I headed to Europe to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc in the “anti-clockwise” direction having made the decision to go this way knowing that we would likely run into a lot of the same people everyday because this is the most popular way to hike this trail. After a few days I couldn’t remember that we call it counter clockwise over here! Anyway, we were hoping these fellow hikers we were bound to meet would be people we would enjoy running into again and again. The guide book warns you that if you are worried about it perhaps you would rather do the other direction so that mostly you meet all new people everyday whose path you are just crossing.

Well, we didn’t even get to the trail head on the first day when we had some inklings that we had chosen well. We ran into Bill and Eva at the bus stop in Chamonix and immediately started chatting away. Bill solved our problem of finding a place to sleep that very night with one simple phone call. We solved their problem of getting on the bus in the right direction. Immediate rapport was built by having the same interest and plan for our day: hiking the first leg of the TMB.

Travel - TMB Friends 1

As the days progressed we became true friends, enjoying each others’ company even when we found topics of conversation on which we disagreed. We melded so well we are already planning another hiking trip together. Having good companionship on the trail and for the post-hiking daily celebration really enhanced our whole experience of the TMB.

Travel - TMB Friends 3          Travel - TMB Friends 4

In addition to these two wonderful friends, we found several other Americans, Britons, Australians, French, Canadians, who all added to the richness of the experience.

Travel - TMB Friends 4

If you are planning a trip on the TMB consider carefully whether you would like companionship outside your immediate circle or not. The “anti-clockwise” direction worked out perfectly for us!

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Superfood Granola Bars Made Simple

Posted on April 16, 2013. Filed under: Food Made Simple, Health | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Food - Granola Bars 1                         Food - Granola Bars 2

We ran out of the first batch of these so fast I had to whip up another so they were on hand for this busy work week.  They are really nice to grab and go and know you have something satisfying and healthy.  They are just a little sweet, enough to feel like a treat without producing a blood sugar storm.  They whip up in a flash, too!

Ingredients

10 large pitted medjool dates

1/4 C. + 1 t. melted coconut oil

1/4 C. nutmilk (or I was lazy here and used a heaping T. of tahini and some water)

2 T. chia seeds

1 T. vanilla extract

Process above in food processor to make a paste. Add the next group if you have a large processor, otherwise transfer to stand mixer.

1 1/2 C. rolled oats

1/2 C. healthy flours (I used a mixture of buckwheat and millet)

1/4 C. shelled hemp seeds

3/4 t. baking soda

½ t. salt

Mix well with the first group. Then add right at the end:

1/4 C. cacao nibs

1/3 C. mini dark chocolate chips or pieces hand-chopped to be small

Spread into a bar pan.  Batter will be very stiff.  Use a piece of waxed paper to press the mass into place.  Cut with knife or pastry cutter into the size you want.  I like them small so I can eat 2.  It’s a mental thing with me!  Bake at 350° for about 15 minutes.  A little shorter time for softer bars, a little on the long side for crunchy bars.  You decide!

Food - Granola Bars 3

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Sonia Delaunay at the Centre Georges Pompidou

Posted on April 15, 2013. Filed under: Art, France, Paris | Tags: , , , , , |

Travel - Paris Pompidou 2          Travel - Paris Pompidou 1

The Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris is a really fun modern art museum to explore.  The building itself is pretty interesting.  You enter the art museum part through a long tunnel of escalators on the outside of the building.  Then you can wander around and feast your eyes on all sorts of iconic and also obscure pieces of modern art.  Some of it makes you scratch your head and wonder, “This is art?”  For example, the retrospective of Arman, on display when we went showed his collections of garbage from New York City dumpsters sealed in plexiglass since the 1960s.  Ick is all I say!

  Travel - Paris Delaunay 2

But I discovered and instantly liked Sonia Delaunay’s strong colors and geometrics.  The place really gets you to think about what you are seeing.  These paintings just made me feel good.  I don’t enjoy art that makes me uncomfortable.  It might be “important” in someone’s estimation, but it’s like the play that tries to ram culture down your throat by being impossible to follow and so long that it needs 2 intermissions.  Ok, but if I don’t enjoy it, you’ve lost me.  I’m sure there are a lot of important things to understand about Sonia Delaunay, but I can just look and enjoy the good feeling.  That’s enough for me!

Travel - Paris Delaunay 1          Travel - Paris Delaunay 3

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Lentil Loaf Made Simple

Posted on April 14, 2013. Filed under: Food Made Simple, Health | Tags: , , , |

Food - Lentil Loaf 4

Today’s offering is comfort food at its finest – just great for a winter, here, that just won’t quit!  I’m continuing on my no-red-meat mission just for now, so it’s meatloaf with no meat – using lentils instead!

For 2 huge loaves (freeze one to pull out on a work night or just halve the recipe to make one)

Ingredients (use as much organic as you can)

2 bags dry lentils (1-lb. each)

2 cans tomato paste (6 oz. each)

3-4 onions

3-4 C. fresh or frozen chopped spinach or kale (I just poured some in from the bag in the freezer, measuring isn’t really necessary)

sharp cheddar cheese or any kind you like (about 1/2 lb.)

4 eggs

1 C. rolled oats

1/4 t. cayenne or Berere Seasoning from Penzeys Spices

1 t. thyme

2 t. garlic powder

2 t. oregano

2 t. sea salt

2 t. ground black pepper

Cook up the lentils as the package instructs.

Food - Lentil Loaf 1     While the lentils are cooking, chop up the onions in the food processor (don’t wash yet) or by hand and dump into a big bowl.  Then when lentils are very soft (about 30 minutes of cooking) drain excess water and dump into bowl with onions.

Food - Lentil Loaf 2     Mash with a potato masher.  Use same food processor to shred the cheese (don’t buy the pre-shredded cheese – check out that ingredients list – they add all kinds of stuff to keep it from sticking together and to inhibit mold) or grate cheese by hand.

Food - Lentil Loaf 3     Dump the cheese in with the lentils and onions.  Then add everything else and mash together.  Divide mixture into 2 or 3 (depending on the size pan) bread pans or cake pans and sprinkle with a little something on top if you like.  I sprinkled on a little Beef Roast Seasoning (Penzeys again).  Or you can even put some more shredded or sliced cheese on top.  This recipe is very forgiving.

Bake at 350° for an hour.  Add something else into the oven to use all that heat.  I threw in a head of cauliflower tossed with olive oil and some salt/pepper/coriander/rosemary.  Great meal!

Food - Roasted cauliflower

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Regrow Lettuce

Posted on April 13, 2013. Filed under: Food Made Simple, Plants | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Food - Regrowing Lettuce

I love to buy those 4 packs of specialty lettuces where you can get some red-leaf, curly-type, romaine, etc.  I recently discovered that after chopping off the bottom it is possible to plop those ends into some water and grow some more lettuce!  I am fine with making it into worm food in the compost, but if I can get some more edible leaves out of it, why not?  Here is my beautiful lettuce bowl with each nub in a different state of regrowth.  In a few days I’ll be cutting leaves!  This would be a great project for a kid and even I will be quite interested to see if any roots regenerate at the bottom end.  If so, these puppies are getting plopped back into the ground for another go-around!  I will try to keep you posted on their progress.

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Superfood Fruit Smoothie Made Simple

Posted on April 12, 2013. Filed under: Food Made Simple, Health | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Food - Fruit Smoothie 3

Americans need to take back control of their food!  My neighbor mentioned that she had to get to the store to buy some packets of powdered fruit smoothie so she could make them in her blender again.  You can probably imagine my reaction.  I said, “Why would you pay for that?”  and “Have you looked at the ingredients list?”  Let’s just say she has thanked me profusely several times now for teaching her that she doesn’t need a package from the store that some gigantic food manufacturer has put together.

Fruit smoothies are so simple if you have a blender and a freezer.  The best base for all of them are frozen bananas and other fruits and vegetables.  Peel ripe bananas and slice in smallish slices, then throw in a ziplock bag and freeze flat so you can break off as many as you want when you are using them.  Bananas make smoothies creamy and thick so they are a great base.  After that any other fruit and many frozen veggies work great too.  It’s a very sneaky way to get vegetables into children’s diets!  Basically it is frozen stuff, sweetener (honey, maple syrup, stevia, even dates – your choice), and liquid (milk, nutmilk, water).

Mine above there is a special superfood smoothie.  I included frozen banana, rhubarb (yep, using up last year’s frozen supply before this year’s comes in – low calorie and high nutrient, why not?), kale, and papaya.  Then some stevia for sweetening and 1 T. each chlorella and spirulina and some coconut milk.  Absolutely delicious!

Food - Fruit Smoothie 1          Food - Fruit Smoothie 2

The final product makes it possible for me to consume the spirulina and chlorella because I do not find these palatable, believe me, but their health benefits are astounding so I throw them in here where I can’t taste them.  The final color is surprising, but I think especially boys would like the idea of a pond scum smoothie – eeewww!  Hard to believe, but I’m telling you, it tastes wonderful.  And again, every cell in the body sings, “Thank you for the FOOD!”

By the way, that is a stainless steel straw in there.  What a great concept!  I have tried to eliminate plastic from my food and I didn’t know, until recently, that there was any other choice for a straw, but glass and stainless steel are now available for reasonable prices too.  I invested in 10 of these and I will never have to buy straws again and none will go into the landfill or need to be recycled.  And I won’t be sucking up plastic chemicals along with my smoothie.  Just great!!

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Healthy AND Tasty Fudge Made Simple

Posted on April 11, 2013. Filed under: Food Made Simple, Health | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Food - Healthy Fudge

These are so yummy it’s astounding to realize while they melt in your mouth that they are feeding your cells with superfood nutrition.  What joy!  Just assemble these ingredients, which, admittedly are not easy to find in stores.  Just place an order at nuts.com and you will be all set.  Then when you’re wondering what to do with all those great ingredients, knock yourself out with this super easy recipe!

Ingredients

1 C. cacao powder

4 T. mesquite powder

4 T. goji berry powder

4 T.  maca powder

3/4 C. shelled hempseeds

1/4 C. lightly toasted sesame seeds (pour into dry pan and heat on medium-low for about 10 minutes – cool)

4 T. flaxseed meal

1/2 C. coconut sugar

3/4 C. melted coconut oil (Heat by placing container into a bowl of very hot water to gently melt.  If you keep it in a metal container you can put it on the stove on the lowest setting just for a few minutes until it is about half melted.)

1/2 C. maple syrup

Start by toasting the sesame seeds and melting the coconut oil.  While those are warming, dump all the other ingredients into a heavy stand mixer fitted with a paddle, if possible.  Add oil and sesame seeds.  Mix until stiff dough forms.  Stop to scrape down sides of bowl if necessary.  Scrape out onto a board lined with wax paper or plastic wrap.  Form square or rectangle through the paper or put into a square baking pan to help form the shape.  Put into refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Take out and put fudge on a cutting board still wrapped.  Unwrap and cut into small cubes.  Store in the refrigerator (if there are any left – ha!)

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E. Dehillerin: A Paris Culinary Landmark

Posted on April 10, 2013. Filed under: Food Made Simple, France, Paris, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , |

Travel - Paris E. Dehillerin 1             Travel - Paris E. Dehillerin 2

Having read about the famous cookware shop in Paris, E. Dehillerin http://www.e-dehillerin.fr/en/index.php I had to go when in town!  Established in 1820 and not really changed since then, it is a bit of a step back in time.  It is a pleasure to stroll the aisles and look at all the amazing cookware.  I really, really, really wanted a knife and/or a Staub cast iron pot, but alas, I left with a few wooden stirrers and a small stack of porcelain bowls because the prices were BIG and that cast iron is rather heavy to carry through airports so I thought better of it afterall.

Travel - Paris E. Dehillerin 3           Travel - Paris E. Dehillerin 4

The copper pots are prolific and gorgeous.  The service, hmmm… rather aloof and difficult to ask questions like prices (much is not marked and they aren’t too happy to dig through their enormous price books to find it for you.)  I’m sure the tourists are quite a bore so I don’t really blame them.  It was a fun experience nonetheless and I would recommend walking through.  Also check out the other cookware shops nearby.  There are 3 or 4 more interesting little nooks scattered in the neighborhood.

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